What the Cafe Does to Help Make the Earth Green

Yesterday I had a chance to speak with a group of high school students in an environmental awareness class at Frontier, in South Deerfield. Their teacher, Delfina, brought the group in and doled out dollar bills outside the cafe so they could buy something while I spoke to them. I thought that was a nice touch.

After they had ordered smoothies, chocolate milks, and pastries, we gathered by the window and I talked about the ways the cafe is trying to be environmentally aware. I cited some of the things we do, such as paying extra for a dumpster that recycles newspapers and loose papers; that we collect all of plastic and metal containers and tote them to the dump, and that we provide free WiFi–which allows many of our neighbors to work from the cafe, instead of driving long distances to their offices.

Steve suggested more ways we help the earth–such as promoting sustainable, environmentally neutral travel opportunities, and generating interest in eco-tourism that brings money to countries who need it. That by promoting tourism, the world’s biggest industry, we helped countries make money in a sustainble way. Our website, I told the students (who looked as if they really couldn’t have cared less), is another example of what we do–we don’t cut down trees, we don’t have to truck the finished product, it’s all pixels in space, and it’s as robust a publishing platform as I’ve ever seen.

I told them about my experiences with a printed travel magazine–how Barnes and Noble only sells less than half the copies, that the rest are chucked and trucked, and how the New York Times still prints its thousands of pages using mostly virgin timber from Canadian woods.

Finally, I told them about how we use local purveyors and products–from Nora’s Deerfield eggs, to Richardson’s chocolate pretzels, to the Black Sheep’s biscotti and milk from High Lawn Farm in Lee. It was a good feeling to take this sort of inventory of what we do, and it made me realize we’re on the right track.